Former D.C. Council member and four-time Republican mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz surprised political observers on Monday by announcing she is entering the race for mayor as an independent candidate.
Schwartz, who often was at odds with the national Republican Party, has been a strong supporter of LGBT rights and enjoyed the support of large numbers of LGBT voters.
She won city-wide election four times to an at-large Council seat before losing her bid for a fifth term to GOP primary challenger Patrick Mara in 2008. Mara lost in the general election to independent Michael Brown who later lost his re-election bid to Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large).
Schwartz has stayed out of politics since losing her Council seat in 2008.
“My love for D.C. is a good part of why I’m running, as well as my great sense of responsibility about its welfare,” she said in a statement released to the media on Monday.
Many political observers as well as LGBT activists following the mayor’s race believe Schwartz’s entrance into the race will help Democratic mayoral contender Muriel Bowser, the Ward 4 Council member, at the expense of fellow Council member and rival mayoral candidate David Catania (I-At-Large).
As a non-Democrat, Schwartz is likely to take away more votes from Catania than from Bowser because loyal Democrats are expected to back Bowser, forcing Catania to compete for many of the same voters that would likely find Schwartz an attractive alternative to Bowser.
Ben Young, Catania’s campaign manager, called Schwartz’s candidacy an “orchestrated” effort by Schwartz to help Bowser win the race.
“This is as transparent as glass,” Young told the Blade. “Everyone knows how long their friendship goes back, and this is a sideshow – an attempt to divide the vote so that Bowser can squeak by. But it’s going to backfire on them,” he said. “They’ve underestimated the intelligence of voters.”
Another possible motive for Schwartz to target Catania, according to people familiar with the two, is that she and Catania clashed over various issues during Schwartz’s latter years on the Council. Catania threw his support behind Mara in the 2008 Republican primary, helping political newcomer Mara defeat Schwartz.
Bowser, appearing Monday night at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club meeting where she won the club’s endorsement, said the allegation made by Young doesn’t dignify an answer.
“I launched my campaign for mayor last March 23,” she said. “I didn’t care then who was running and I don’t care now who’s running. Our vision and message is the same and we’re going to see the voters on Nov. 4 no matter who’s on the ballot.”
When asked about Young’s claim that her candidacy was orchestrated with Bowser, Schwartz told the Blade, “I appreciate and agree with Muriel’s response that this does not deserve a response. I want to be mayor on my own accord, which should be obvious to everyone on the planet by now.”
In the statement she released on Monday announcing her candidacy Schwartz said she is ready to return to politics.
“During this five-year break from political life – and many of you may remember, that break was not of my choosing – I have watched closely from the sidelines and have been concerned about what is happening in our city’s present and what its future will look like,” she said.
Among her concerns has been the large numbers of city residents “left behind or pushed out” of the city during a period of economic growth and prosperity. She said she’s also troubled over corruption in city government that has “gone beyond the pale.”
“I want a leader who has the wisdom to recognize chicanery before the ‘you know what’ hits the fan and who has the courage to take it on and stop it before its hits,” she said.
“Today, our citizens are in need of someone who will fight for their interest, someone who will help earn back our reputation; someone who will be beholden to no one but them,” she said. “I believe that I am that someone.”